Heroin 'is now a major problem in Galway'
Heroin is now a major issue across Galway county, according to one drugs counsellor.
However, the root of the drugs issue lies in our problem with alcohol as a nation, according to some experts.
A recent meeting of the Galway Joint Policing Committee reported that new Garda Drugs Units in Tuam and Ballinasloe have helped bring the total number of arrests for drug use from January to August this year to 94, a 64pc increase.
The evidence suggests the new units have had more success targeting users rather than dealers - just a 5pc increase in drugs for sale or supply was noted, However, despite the threat from heroin, just €3,820 worth of the drug was seized during the same time frame.
"Patients often say that their main problem is drink, but that when they drink they end up taking other drugs too," said Mary Falvey from Cuan Mhuire treatment centre in Athenry.
"From what I'm hearing Galway is awash with drugs and heroin is one of the big problems now. I'm talking about Galway city and county, particularly in the county towns.
"Whereas we had seen a lot of patients with trouble with alcohol in the past, it's fair to say there are very few people under 40 now that haven't used some form of drugs. It's a combination of drink and drugs we are seeing now.
"Across the board there has been an increase in the number of patients we are seeing looking for drug treatments.
"Alcohol is still our biggest problem here, but gambling is really increasing too. It's looking at you in every place you go."